In Matthew 16:18 we are told by Christ that He will build His church. Why does it seem, then, many churches are turning to business practices and worldly standards to live as the church? The Word of God speaks to what the people of God do for worship. William Boekenstein and Daniel R. Hyde remind us of this truth in their book A Well-Ordered Church. With God’s Word as the foundation, Boekenstein and Hyde lay out what a well-ordered church looks like in four parts: (1) identity, (2) authority, (3) ecumenicity, and (4) activity. The book is a balanced, biblical, and informative work.
Balanced, Biblical, and Informative
One of the things I appreciated most about this book, as it pertains to the church, is the authors emphasized the fallacy of going to extremes, whether it be one side or the other. The people of God do not sway to the idea a churchless Christianity nor do they partake in a Christ-less churchianity (Boekenstein and Hyde 20) and do not settle into authoritarianism or arbitrariness (Boekenstein and Hyde 32). Rather, the church should have a biblical balance. The church should be seen as both an organization and an organism, practicing both an attractional and incarnational model in their witness (Boekenstein and Hyde 126, 130). Thus, a well-ordered church is a balanced church.
A second mark in this book is the authors’ commitment to Scripture. Upfront the say, “The goal of this book is to bring us back to the basics of ecclesiology, or, the biblical doctrine of the church” (Boekenstein and Hyde 14). Crucial here is this: the biblical doctrine of the church. The church’s identity is found in Christ and Christ is the authority over the church (chapters 1-2). As a church, we understand the need for leadership (chapter 3) and to partner with other local churches (chapters 4-5). From there, we allow Scripture to guide us in what describes a church, one that is teaching, worshiping, witnessing, and repenting (chapters 6-11). My favorite chapter was the church as a repenting church (chapter 11). The subject of repentance is not very popular today even in the church, but it is clearly biblical and the very response, in accompany with belief, the gospel calls us to. I especially found the statement, “the church is a place for repentant sinners” (Boekenstein and Hyde 145) to be a great nugget of truth often overlooked among Christians. One thing worth noting with this point is the authors speak from a Reformed theology point of view. Some may not agree with all their principles but you can appreciate their pattern of going to Scripture to see what it has to say about the church.
A third feature used to describe this book would be informative. This is certainly a good aspect of the book but I believe there is some caution to place here as well. With its informative purpose, some can get lost if they are not familiar with the historic confessions of faith and catechisms. There are a few terms they may not recognize in significance. Even so, there are also times where they address their stance and, yet, are not convincing (pastor as a distinct office from elder-p. 44; denominations as a possible biblical paradigm-p. 58). Case in point, A Well-Ordered Church is informative, but with critiques to bear.
All said, A Well-Ordered Church is a balanced, biblical, and informative book for pastors with a Reformed theology. (By the way, you can hear an interview by Shaun Tabatt with the authors here.)
I received this book for free from EP Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.